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Archive for the ‘Online journalism’ Category

Sitting opposite the glittering lights of Cardiff’s winter wonderland, whirring with festive glee, sits a rather unusual gem. Cardiff Arts Institute, ‘like being pissed in a Saatchi Exhibition’, is a brand new establishment offering a completely different experience in Wales’s capital.

Independent pub group 580 Ltd and Something Creatives spotted a gap in Cardiff’s live music and arts scene. Taking note of the handy location on Park Place opposite Cardiff’s national museum, with the groggy plod of students heading into town, they decided to invest in a new venture.  CAI opened on November 5 this year, and is a veritable hub of creative outpouring with live music, food and decor that’d make Laurence Llewelyn Boleyn blush.

The view from Cardiff Arts Institute

Fiercely innovative, with ‘Forever Evolve’ etched on their internet manifesto, CAI replaced Incognito’s, a club/pub/restaurant, which closed last year. It is set back from the busy road in a terraced Victorian building.

The venue is split across three levels, with a staircase leading up to the ping pong room, and a vibrant array of decor. With porcelain horseheads, colourful neon signs, displays of flourescent marigolds and glass cabinets full of ironic trinkets, the interior definitely has an affinity with various boozers in Shoreditch. Down from the long and well-stocked bar sits an area sporting live music by night, and an eating area in the day. CAI is strong on its interactive features and likes punters to feel involved, with lego boards mounted on the walls.

Leah Thompson, 32 and Tamsin Berkley, 35, were enjoying a catch-up drink after work. Leah has lived in Cardiff for four years. She said: “I was here on the opening night – it was jam packed. I came in, went straight to the lego and spent half an hour playing with it. I like it here – it’s really different, and much better than Incognito. I walked in and thought – wow. The space has really opened up. There’s definitely the market for somewhere like this in Cardiff.”

CAI hosts a wealth of live music, putting events on throughout the week and at weekends. The nights boast a spectrum of music genres – from electro, house, funk, dubstep, indy, rock and jazz, to swing. Wonky Disco is held on Thursday nights and recently featured Cardiff electro group The Evils, while the lively Glass Diamond and eclectic band Opa!  – playing ‘Balkan beats and Kleizmer cuts’ – have also made a cameo. According to Deputy Manager Dan Johnson, 23, it was London-based trio The Correspondents who really got the crowd going for gold.

Dan lives in Cardiff Bay and oversaw the opening. He said: “It wouldn’t be fair to compare CAI to Incognito – towards the end of its life, Incognito lacked that zainy atmosphere. It was quite cheesy – a very dated pub.” CAI featured in the Guardian at the end of last month, where it was described as a ‘hot new city haunt’.

Marketing Executive for CAI Matt ‘the Hat’ djs at the Institute regularly. He said: “Inspiration for the interior has come from places like the Lock Tavern Pub in Camden, and Start the Bus in Bristol. I like to play a bit of house, a bit of dubstep, just everything to try to encourage every sort of crowd possible.”

The music nights are only part of the story, however. Dan said: “Although the best events are the bands and DJs, we have quiz nights and musical bingo which are quite fun, run by a pair called Squeaky Hill. They attract quite a few students who want to get involved. Puff Daddy’s musical blingo is coming up soon – we had one back in November and it was very successful. There are lots of prizes to be won, and games to play. Records and roasts on Sunday afternoons are the ideal way to sooth a hangover. Our main competition are Buffalo and Ten Feet Tall, although the crowd there are probably after something more mainstream.”

The crowd flocks over from Cardiff's National museum for lunch

Ten Feet Tall is a popular live music haunt in Cardiff’s city centre. Manager Jonathan Dexter, 23, said: “I like the ping pong room up the stairs, it feels like somebody’s living room. I haven’t noticed any sort of drop off in our crowd here, though.”

With rumblings of an appearance by the Super Furry Animals on Boxing Day, CAI has a myriad of musical and events planned for the new year. With such a successful first month and a powerhouse of creativity behind it, it will be interesting to see how the indefinite evolution progresses.

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Computer Assisted Reporting (CAR) may help the plight of the journalist by providing tools with which to verify data. By using statistical methods of analysis through computer programs such as excel and statistical packages may help in presenting data from databases in a more objective way – which could lead to the public trusting journalists more – surely a good thing.

Public records can be analysed, political and demographic change may be quantified using such tools, alongside geographic information system mapping. By using stats, the data will become more useful and can be backed up further with the more classical benefits of computers – email and research. It increases the efficiency of the journalist in terms of making meaningful conclusions in rapid time – good when working to deadline.

Clarence Jones of the Miami Herald worked in 1969 with CAR to find patterns in the criminal justice system. Bill Dedman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution received a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 after CAR helped him in his investigation into mortgage lending redistribution in middle-income black neighbourhoods, The Color of Money.

It is argued the first use of CAR, however, was in 1952 when CBS used a UNIVAC computer to analyse the results from the US Presidential election. Over here in the UK, The Daily Telegraph presented a database for the UK election in November 2008.

Of course, the spiraling success and popularity of the internet has changed the way the media can interpret important information – not only supplying databases with raw material but also the tools to make this information come alive and make the story sing. The role of such analysis in investigative journalism, when the stakes may be higher and time tighter is evidently great. In 2007 the use of CAR increased yet further – with interactive maps strengthening data aggregation and presentation.

Adrian Holovaty is a key figure in database journalism – another way of describing CAR. He launched Chicagocrime.org in the US in 2005, where essentially wrote the basis of database journalism. A project of his, The Everyblock Project, aims to gather and present a myriad of data over 11 American cities. He was awarded $1,100,000 to assist with this by Knight News Challenge.

As a by product of CAR, several news organisations have released Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) – namely the BBC, the Guardian and the New York Times. An API allows the sharing of content through software programming – allowing further coagulation of information.

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Last week, as part of the online component of our journalism course, Rob Andrews shared his pearls of wisdom on the future of the industry. Andrews is UK Editor of Paid Content – a website providing global coverage of the economics of digital content.

Rob Andrews at a conference on changing media. He is second from the right.

Andrews was a fellow student at the Cardiff School of Journalism before cutting his teeth at his weekly local rag. He joined Paid Content after predicting all media would eventually become digital. Andrews said he enjoys the flexibility that comes from working for Paid Content as he can work from home, putting together his own video and audio.

Andrews studied journalism at Cardiff - as I am now

Paid Content was set up in 2002 by Rafat Ali , former managing editor of the Silicon Alley Reporter. There’s a good interview with Ali on Greg Lindsay’s website mediabistro.

The UK’s branch of Paid Content is part of Context Next Media, owned by Guardian News & Media Ltd. It provides sustainable business models to decision makers in the media – specifically the entertainment, publishing, advertising, marketing and technology sectors.

During the 2009 World Association of Newspapers Congress, Ali discussed the changing requirements of today’s journalist, as the reporter, the promoter and the business man. He features on the Editors Web Blog website today stressing the importance of having the sense of the changing economics in journalism at the forefront of his mind. He said: “At its best, I am a better entrepreneur because I am a journalist, and I’m a better journalist because I’m an entrepreneur.”

Are we aspiring journalists in for a steep climb?

Andrews was quite frank about the media landscape at the moment, but optimistic about the opportunities it provided for change and innovation. He said the print industry was losing money from having to develop to keep afloat in a time of media abundance. He stressed a solution could be to extend the reach to the digital media, citing online advertising as providing a measurable and targeted way of helping media moguls sleep at night. He thought this solution would be more efficient than traditional forms, so could guarantee investment. Music to the ears of many regional editors, perhaps. But how do Andrews’s predictions effect the local press, where minions such as myself will be looking for a job?

Andrews felt pay walls are a good idea – where specialist content is concerned. He mentioned the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal as pioneers in this area. They are charging for their news of a more financial and business ilk already. He said the scope for pay walls depend on the content;  that charging for local newspaper content online would be suicide, citing an example from Teeside where hyper-local reporting was tested unsuccessfully. I can see this – much as I love my local rag, The Kingsbridge Gazette, I can’t really see people shelling out for ‘unidentified duck on bridge’.

The Wall Street Journal has successfully introduced paywalls

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is keen to introduce a pay wall to The Times as from next year, focusing on the supplement sections. Andrews mentioned findings by a recent PCUK/Harris Poll study commissioned by Paid Content where only five per cent of readers were prepared to pay for online news, and questioned the plausibility of this.

In this case, it may be that value added extras are the way forward – such as The Telegraph charging for its fantasy football, charging for Spotify on the iPhone, or buying news as a commodity on iTunes.

I thought – perhaps it would be a good idea of a new type of service to pharmeceutical companies, providing bespoke content, for example the information on the sections of the stock market that effects them.

But Rob still believes this is an exciting time to become a journalist, as long as we are able to embrace the multi-tasking involved. He says there will always be a call for specialists – despite the rise of citizen and fall of  print journalism.

I hope he is right.

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In a recent lecture for part of our online studies, Joanna Geary, Web Development Editor at The Times, came in to chat to us about the use of social media.

Miss Geary has had a remarkable career so far – and she is still only in her twenties. She started at the Bimingham Post, as a business reporter. The paper was undergoing a period of cuts and redundancies afforded by the changing shape of the industry we all know so well and love, so she set up a blog looking at the media landscape – or more importantly, why it was failing. She was not afraid of the threat of technology to journalism many of the more traditional journalists feel.

Her blog caught the attention of The Times – where she now works, planning multimedia around key articles in the paper and exploring new digital products. She has also recently set up Brand New, for building online brands, and the Birmingham Social Media Cafe where people interested in the use and future of social media can meet up and network.

As we are frequently faced with so many gloomy and downright depressing predictions about the morphing industry it was reassuring to hear her opitimism, and of how her blog helped her move forward in her career.

As Gary Andrews, ITV Online Engagement, said: “If journalism is going to be saved, she’s one of the people who’ll be saving it.”

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The Internet Manifesto discusses the present role of the internet in journalism in 17 points, and essentially how it strengthens the journalist’s plight:

http://www.internet-manifesto.org/

It states a media that ignores the strengths of the internet does so at its own peril in terms of the opportunity the internet allows to develop the ‘best possible form of journalism based on the available technology’. This is true, especially when considering the way many new technological tools may supplement the communication of a story, bringing it to life and thus relaying its message more clearly.

The internet may well be a ‘pocket-sized media empire’, but that does not necessarily make it a valid, trustworthy one. While being cured of its ‘gate-keeping function’, the internet also cures so-called journalists of the need to be affiliated to a trustworthy source; it is easier to publish and access so-called journalism, which surely makes the quality of the information from these sources questionable.

Of course the freedom of information afforded by going online slips hand in hand with a true democracy. However, it can lead to a surplus of unrelated information which more traditional forms of media, i.e. journals, can filter out, making them a more efficient choice for methods of research.

The most alarming part of the manifesto came when blurring the lines between journalists and non-journalists to good versus bad journalism. In a sense therefore, everyone is a journalist. It is difficult to escape the nagging sense that journalism is being devalued. Unless the distinction between journalist and non journalist is kept black and white, as a profession it will begin to mean nothing.

Alison Gow reacts:

http://headlinesanddedlines.blogspot.com/2009/09/five-phrases-to-outlaw-in-newsrooms.html

She includes five issues that news editors must consider in order to keep afloat in these times of convergence. Essentially, she highlights the fact the Manifesto was available on the internet in itself made it inaccessible to those it sought to address. Apparently the problem is much worse than the authors dare anticipate, and news editors are still to be informed of the basic merits of multimedia journalism.

Equally alarming and surprising, it is difficult to believe this discussion still rages on. Are the benefits of the convergence of platforms not crystal clear? Improbable some are still in need of convincing, a thought I cannot help but be convinced by.

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